MAP Week 5 Summary
This week we began with re-exploring the different ways of breathing that we experimented with during the previous session, in order to reconnect to the tasks. This included expanding movement on the exhale, and retracting
movement on the inhale and vis versa; fast breathing with slow movement, and slow breathing with fast movement. Issues which arose as a result of these tasks included whether you are controlling the breath, or whether the breath is controlling you; the emotive feelings that come up when breathing in certain ways; and whether the performer is going for the ‘obvious’ choices during the task, or going against the ‘obvious’ choices.
I feel that through controlling the breath there is the possibility to separate the movement from the breath so that there is a counterpoint between the two actions. At times there is a play between the movement being separate from the body’s movement, and the breath being linked to the body’s movement. I am interested in hearing the breath while the performer is moving so that the task that they are working with is clear and can be observed by the viewer. Through more investigation and play this may become unnecessary, but at this point in time I find it interesting for the task to be visible.
The next task was to create a movement phrase based on one of the breathing tasks above. The aim was to draw more attention to the movement itself. After the phrase was made I gave the performers a task for altering the movements. I found this more interesting to engage with in terms of creating movement.
This was followed by two improvisations based on the phrase. In the first improvisation we tried altering the breathing patterns with/against the movements. This bought up whether it is necessary to hear the breath and make
the connection obvious, or whether it is a subtle aspect where the connection does not have to be obvious. I am thinking that the answer to this may be in the intention of what the material will be used for. The task is only obvious when you can hear the breath otherwise it is difficult to know what the performer is working with and why they are moving in certain ways. Some performers tried to steer away from what they perceived as being the obvious choice during the improvisation. I find this an interesting thought as this occasionally arises in the creation of movement. That is, the choice to go into your habits or the choice to steer away from your habits. I see this as being similar to actively deciding to go towards the obvious choice or steering away from it.
In the second improvisation the group improvised on their phrase thinking about the breath as an emotive force. This created difficulties for the performers and brought up several questions such as: Where is the emotion initiated from? The breath or the movement? Is it the breath or the movement leading the choices? Can it be both? Do the performers need an emotion to work on from the outset or can the emotion emerge out of the task?
We talked about the breath being an inherent part of dance and how breath and sound are used within a teaching context to help describe the movement and give a feeling of timing and sensation to the movement.
We also revisited another task from the previous session, which was breathing for a performer’s improvisation:
- fast breathing for a performer
- slow breathing for a performer
This task was satisfying to watch as the task was very clear. The performer improvised to the breath and used the sound, the speed (whether to go with or counterpoint) and the direction of the sound, as the motivation to move. The movement language itself was not directed.This research has opened up an investigation into using breath as the instigation of movement. It is most definitely possible to create movement with breath. However, the movement language itself comes from the individual dancer’s history of movement, rather than the breath creating its own movement language. I think that breath is a useful device, which can be easily applied to an established vocabulary in order to manipulate it and extend it. The tasks have been able to produce an interesting and connected energy within the room when you are either performing a task, or observing a group of people perform a task.
MAP Week 4 Summary
I am using this opportunity with MAP to undertake research for my Masters of Media and Performance, and as a result I have adopted a phenomenological methodology. It has influenced the ideas that I am researching and how I am processing them.
I have been researching breathing and movement in depth because it opens up an avenue for exploring the connectivity between people, as well as the connectivity between animate and inanimate things in the world. The research is highlighting the reciprocal exchange that occurs between the inside and the outside, and the subtle ways in which this impacts on a performer’s movement. This week I worked towards making the tasks more specific in order to extend my phenomenological exploration of the relationship between breathing bodies and their movements, at both a solo and a group level.
We began the session by exploring different ways in which we can control the breath. Firstly, we moved through a few ways of controlling the breath: fast, slow, uneven, even, stopping and starting. Even though this task had a direct instruction it opened up many other possibilities and variables, such as the relationship between how the air is entering the body and where the breath is focused within the body, for example if it goes into the chest, belly, or ribs. Another variable is whether you allow the breath to become an exaggerated or restricted movement, or whether it remains an automatic movement.
The next task we did was imagining the air was blue and what that would be like to breath blue air. This felt odd, and I didn’t know how to deal with this in the body. I think that I could try imagining other images of what the air around us looks or feels like.
The following task was to breath into different parts of your body. Again, this task could be approached from two perspectives: imagining different parts of your body breathing, or breathing into a body part. After discussing this task within the group we tried a few other ways of approaching the task such as:
- the body expanding on the inhale and shrinking on the exhale, and visa versa
- fast breathing with slow movements
- slow breathing with fast movements
- imagining a body part was breathing and see how long you could hold the breathing body part while moving until you lost it and then wait until you could connect/find the breathing in a different body part.
From here we experimented with breathing for another person while they were moving. This task is similar to an exercise where you make sound effects for someone else’s movement. The premise is to breath for the mover as you think they would be breathing. In discussion, the mover felt as though they had a lot of agency as if they had manipulated the breather’s breath. The breather however, could choose what they were following in the mover’s body. I also experimented with breathing against the mover’s movement to explore the effect. We also tried this task as a group with multiple breathers and one mover. Firstly, the breathers breathed off the mover, and then the mover moved off the breath. The next stage of this could be swapping the leader within the improvisation to work towards both working together.
This research has been exploring different ways of breathing, and the ways in which the breath can connect to movement and have an effect on the movement. Choreographed movement has not been a relevant aspect of the research, and I have not put any emphasis on choreographing a performance as such. This is because there is no particular reason why you would or would not move in a certain way within these tasks. However, I think that this research has relevance in a performance setting, and that it could be used to help develop choreographed movement. While breath is only one aspect among many that needs to be considered in a performance, it has been very valuable to have this opportunity to explore it.
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